Protests at Western opposition to LNA oil terminal takeovers

By Moutaz Mathi.

Tripoli, 13 September 2016:

There is growing anger across Libya at the yesterday’s condemnation by the US and five European states of the takeover of the eastern oil terminals by the Libyan National Army (LNA).

There were two demonstrations this afternoon, in Tobruk as well as in Zintan where militia leaders are now threatening to re-close the coast road in protest.

Meanwhile, political activists have been calling on social media for similar anti-US and European rallies elsewhere in the country.

In Benghazi, Libya Herald correspondents report deep anger today among ordinary residents at the statement by the US, France, Germany, Italy Spain and the UK which called on the LNA to withdraw immediately from the oil crescent “without preconditions”.

The six also reaffirmed their intention to ensure that the east of the country is prevented from exporting oil, unless it has the permission of the Presidency Council.

“People generally are very happy at the [LNA] move and very unhappy with the West”, noted one of the Benghazi correspondents today, predicting anti-western protests there.

There are already reports that the pro-Hafter political establishment in the city are planning one for Wednesday.

Expressing their own displeasure at the statement, elders from Cyrenaican tribes issued a statement condemning what they said was unacceptable intervention in the country. While they respected the interests of western countries in Libya it did not mean that they had the right to dictate to it or take it over, they said. Confirming their support for Khalifa Hafter and the LNA and their right to protect Libya’s assets, the elders asked why the six countries did nothing when Ibrahim Jadhran had been, in their words, stealing from the Libyan people every day.

Criticism of the western statement also came from former prime minister Mahmoud Jibril and the head of the LNA’s Tripoli operations room, Colonel Idris Madi. Likewise describing it as an unacceptable interference in Libyan affairs, the latter hailed the takeover of the terminals as a major victory for all Libyans, saying that it presaged the end of the country’s woes. He also called on all military officers and the police to return to work.

Today’s rallies in Tobruk and Zintan also reflected revived concerns that Italy intends to send troops to Libya.

The latter follows a separate statement yesterday by Italian defence minister Roberta Pinotti that Italy is thinking of setting up a hospital in Misrata to treat those wounded in the fight in Sirte against the so-called Islamic State and would send not only doctors and others to staff it but also soldiers to protect it.

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